Most parents have some fears of the day their child will start dating. This is a very big step for most teenagers, and shows that they are growing up and entering into adulthood. It is very important to be aware that they still need you now and this is all a normal part of development for all teenagers.
There are several questions parents should ask themselves:
- What role do we have in our child dating?
- Should we make ground rules for dating?
- Should we provide education about dating?
Some of these questions are difficult, but should be catered to the individual teenager. Some teens are forthcoming with dating and some are not as forthcoming about their teen dating life. It is important for a parent to at least establish with their teen the idea of what should be expected in a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship.
Teenagers should understand that healthy relationships have balance. Teens should still participate in their daily activities and spend quality time with family and friends, instead of hyper-focusing on their dating life/relationship. This type of advice for a teenager can allow them to maintain perspective about what is expected of them if/when they start dating.
Generally speaking most teenagers gather their own knowledge about dating from their friends, social media, TV shows, movies, which may not be realistic. It is vital for a teenager to have a foundation of what it means to be in a loving and supporting relationship. This foundation of understanding of what dating is and should be is a continuous process of learning for the teenager. Parents should continue to find time to talk about relationships whether its friendships or about dating. It allows the teenager to have an opportunity to have a constant open discussion about relationships without feeling judged or misunderstood.
When that moment comes and your teenager is dating, it is so vital for parents to have a mutual and set understanding of what is expected of the teen. Some examples of ground rules may be related to curfew, when they can go out on dates, and if the dates have to be in a group setting. It is your teenager’s responsibility to know the ground rules and follow them. If you have taught them about proper relationships, then you should trust them to make their own decisions. Only intervene if you think the relationship is dangerous to your teenager.
Some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship may be the following-
- Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
- You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
- Your child’s partner emails or texts excessively.
- You notice that your child is depressed or anxious.
- Your child stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
- Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
- Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
- Your child begins to dress differently.
Check out our Teen Center for information on teen dating and other topics or contact the office for more information